Exercises for rotator cuff injury -Don’t be scared if you are experiencing a rotator cuff pain. Rotator cuff tear happens to so many people around the world yearly.
It is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. Though it can be a major setback, there are numerous exercises that can help you heal. These workouts listed in this article are the best exercise for rotator cuff injury.
We demand a lot from our shoulders anytime we toss a ball, painting the ceiling, or simply swimming. You put a lot of pressure on the shoulder’s soft tissues. These soft tissues are the main form of support for the shoulder.
They provide stability to the shoulder. Due to the amount of work demanded from the shoulder during some activities, these tissues can be torn.
However, with the right treatment, you will feel better in a short period of time. Before we proceed to the best exercise for rotator cuff injury, let us take a look at what the rotator cuff really is.
The Rotator Cuff
The impressive range of motion of the shoulder is fascinating. Two things produce this range of motion – the structure and the muscles of the rotator cuff.
Do you still remember the ball and socket joint of the shoulder? The ball and socket joint comprises of the shoulder blade and the peak of your arm bone.
This top of the arm bone with the shoulder blade (also known as scapula) from the shoulder joint. These are held by the connection between the acromion and the collarbone.
The rotator cuff is a sleeve that allows the ball-shaped head of your arm bone to roll and spin while at the same time remaining in your shoulder blade socket. In other words, the rotator cuff enables the movement of your shoulders.
There are four muscles in their respective tendons that make up this sleeve of the rotator cuffs name;
- Teres minor
Though these tendons and muscles are strong, they can become damaged due to the amount of work sometimes demanded from your shoulders. When this happens, it can become very painful.
We know how painful and frustrating joint injuries can be and that is why we have listed in this article the best exercise for rotator cuff injury.
Rotator Cuff Symptoms
- Weakness and Stiffness
- Restricted motion
- Pain and swelling in the front of your shoulder
- Locking in arm
What is Rotator Cuff Injury?
Rotator cuff injuries are pretty popular and happen to a lot of people. Basically, there are two widely known types of injury for the rotator cuffs and they are; tears and impingements (1).
Impingements on the shoulder arise when your rotator cuff’s soft tissues become inflamed and swollen. When this happens, there will be an expansion in size and this will make a movement of the shoulders a little bit difficult.
This will cause pinching between the shoulder blade and the arm bone when you try to move your shoulders. Shoulder impingements can arise as a result of the repetitive use of the shoulders or when you fall.
Like the name suggests, a rotator cuff tear arises when a tendon or a rotator cuff muscle actually tears. These tears can either be a minor one or very severe, depending on the affected tissue and the thickness and depth of the tear.
Just like shoulder impingements, tears are caused by the wearing down of the muscles of rotator cuffs overtime, or by acute traumas.
If you are currently experiencing an injury to your rotator cuff, these exercises outlined below will help you overcome the pain and heal you. These workouts are the best exercise for rotator cuff tear.
The Best Exercises for Rotator Cuff Injury
There are various exercises that can help add strength to the muscles of the rotator cuff. Listed below are the best exercise for rotator cuff injury. Each exercise listed has a description on how to perform it.
1. The Doorway Stretch
The doorway stretch exercise is one of the best exercises for rotator cuff injuries. The exercise strengthens your shoulder muscles over time.
Not only is it good for your shoulders, it also lengthens your chest. This exercise improves definition in your shoulder and chest.
How to do the Doorway Stretch
- First, you need to warm up the muscles. Stand in an open doorway and spread out your arms to the side.
- Next, grab the sides of the doorway with each of your hand. Ensure you grip the doorway at or just below shoulder height.
- Now lean forward through this doorway just until you experience a light stretch.
- Ensure your back is straight as you lean forward and at the same time shift your body weight onto your toes.
- By now, you should be feeling a stretch in the front of the shoulder.
- Make sure you don’t overstretch.
2. Internal Rotations Using Dumbbells
The dumbbell internal rotation workout is one of the best exercises for rotator cuff injuries. It is a great exercise that the rotator cuff muscles can absolutely benefit from.
This exercise will develop your subscapularis – the muscle that allows the shoulder to rotate inward. You need to lie on your back or on your side to perform this exercise.
How to do the Internal Rotations using Dumbbells
- Begin by lying on the floor or on a flat bench you use for exercise.
- Make sure you rest your upper back and keep the elbow in contact with the floor.
- Your forearm should also be out to the side and almost parallel to the floor.
- Keep your upper arm in and tight to your body. At the same time, bring the dumbbell up in a vertical forward arc position.
- Hold this position at the top for about 1-2 seconds and then bring the arm back to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement until you feel exhausted and then perform it on your other arm.
3. Dumbbell External Rotation
If you chose to perform the dumbbell internal rotations, then you should also perform the dumbbell external rotation just after. The dumbbell external rotation balances out your shoulder muscles.
It is performed by lying down on the floor or across a flat exercise bench. This exercise isolates your rotator cuff muscles and works them to become stronger and more flexible. Follow the guide below to perform one of the best exercises for rotator cuff injuries.
How to do the Dumbbell External Rotation
- Begin by lying down just across a flat bench you use for exercise or on the floor.
- Rest your upper back and ensure you keep your elbow in contact with the exercise bench.
- Hold a dumbbell on your hand and also bring your forearm across your waist. Your forearm should be parallel to the floor.
- Keep your upper arm in and tight to your body and rotate your shoulder to enable your forearm to move in an arching motion from the waist to a vertical position. Make sure your forearm is now vertically upright, just at a perpendicular position to your abdomen.
- Hold this position at the top for about 1-2 seconds and bring the arm back to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement until you feel exhausted and perform the movement on the other arm.
5. The Towel Stretch Exercise
Once you notice that there is a form of restriction in the movement of your shoulders, then you should do the towel stretch workout.
The towel stretch exercise is one of the best exercises for rotator cuff injury. It allows your shoulder to regain its flexibility within a short period of time.
This stretch helps to improve the movement of your rotator cuff. Below is a guide on how to perform the shoulder stretch.
How to do the Towel Stretch Exercise
- Begin by placing a towel just behind your back, with one of your hand holding the towel from the top and the other from the bottom.
- Then walk your fingers together and pull gently from either direction into the most restricted motion of your shoulder.
- Hold this position for about 15-30 seconds and repeat the movement three times.
6. Crossover Arm stretch
The Crossover Arm Stretch can help you to reduce shoulder pain and also improve the flexibility of your shoulder.
Whether you are trying to recover from an injury or feeling a little bit of stiffness in your shoulder, the Crossover Arm Stretch is your best bet for reducing the pain and bringing greater flexibility to the shoulder region.
Follow the guide below to perform one of the best exercises for rotator cuff injury.
How to do the Crossover Arm Stretch
- Begin by standing upright and also take some few deep breaths to relax your shoulder.
- Then stretch your affected arm across your chest, just below your chin and ensure you reach far out as possible.
- Your healthy arm will help to hold the elbow area of the arm that is affected. By now, you should be feeling a stretch.
- Now repeat the movement with your other arm.
The rotator cuff plays an important role in the movement of your shoulders. It is important to look after them and always strengthen them with this best exercise for rotator cuff injury. This will improve the flexibility of your shoulders.